So Bob Dylan was in town last night and Marc and I had passed on going for a couple of reasons. 1) On a budget, the tickets were just a bit too pricey. 2) We were really reticent to spend that much on what was likely to be a bad concert. As much as both do love Dylan, the man hasn't put on a good concert in half a decade.
Anyway, last night we had 2 free tickets fall into our laps at the last second so what the hell, we went. I once saw an Elvis impersonator in the parking lot of a carpet store because someone gave me free tickets. So off we go.
Now, I'm not saying it was a terrible show. Cuz it certainly wasn't. I've seen way worse shows before in my life. However, I am still pretty happy we didn't pay $140 to go to this show. Now, before you say 'Oh the guy's 67 years old, cut him some slack" blabbity blah blah, the only slack I will cut him is yes, of course his vocals are not going to be as strong. And yes, he was never known for his stellar vocals and yes he always kinda mumbled. I am a fan and I do know all of that stuff. But, being old does not give you a free pass to be boring or detached. I've seen and heard enough live footage to know that for a long time, Bob Dylan was engaged and interesting and told funny stories onstage. Now, it's just laziness. Thank god for his great band.
Also, I've been lucky enough to see a fair bit of "aging" legends live in concert and every one of them has put on a better show than Dylan did. I saw Roy Orbison the same year he died and he was just as good as ever, Willie Nelson is 75 and had more energy and even though he crams all his vocals into the last note of music in a phrase he was still better live than Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot is 70 and when I saw him I still got shivers even though his vocals are nowhere near where they used to be, I saw Teenage Head 4 months before Frankie Venom died of freakin' throat cancer!! Throat cancer!! And that guy still sang his face off. Hell even Jackie Washington, the guy is 89 and give him a bit of shade and a patch of grass and he'll still give you the best show you've seen. Kelly, remember when we saw the Everly Brothers open for Simon & Garfunkel??? Seeing them sing "Wake Up Little Suzie" is still one of the funnest concert memories I have and those guys were ancient when we saw them.
Like I said, it wasn't a bad show. I just hate having to play "guess that song" all night and I'm a big enough fan that I shouldn't have to do that. Just even say "thanks" in between songs? Maybe a "What up Sudbury!" or something? Anything? Watching you play guitar and harmonica though? That was still pretty damn great.
So mumbling and everything aside, it was still pretty cool to be in the same room with him when he sang "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall." I just think that it's such a shame that songs with lyrics that changed the world, aren't heard. I listen to "Freewheelin" on vinyl and it still gives me goosebumps. He was 22 when that record came out. 22!! 22 years old and he was writing songs like that. It's staggering really when you think about it. And I just really would like to close my eyes and hear something that even resembles the vocals and feelings and emotions of that song. I want to hear "a hard raaaaaaaaaaaaaain's.......gonna faaaall." Cuz that gets me. That makes me want to clench my fist and fight the good fight and get on board. When he sings ".......................................................anaharraygonnfall" it just makes me sad and makes me wonder if he even believes it anymore. I want to believe that he does but he just doesn't sell it. I don't want or need for it to sound the same. I actually don't want that at all. I just need the feeling to be the same.
Maybe that's my biggest problem? I want to feel like I did when I heard Gordon Lightfoot sing "If You Could Read My Mind" at Massey Hall. Surrounded by people that were so quiet you knew nobody was thinking about anything else. You knew everyone's heart was breaking whether they wanted it or not. Cuz he sang it and you knew he still believed it as much as he did when he was heartbroken enough to write it.
That's what I want out of Bob Dylan. Make me still believe it all, as corny as it sounds. Until then, I'll just wish my parents had taken the road trip to Newport in '68 just so that one day they could tell their kids about it.